Hindustan Times, New Delhi
There was plenty to look forward to at the beginning of March when I was in Malaysia for their national Open. Though the rapid spread of coronavirus was causing concern worldwide, there was no mass panic at home and I was hopeful of competing at the Indian Open and spending time with my parents in Delhi. Since shifting to Dubai in August last year with my wife and daughter, home-cooked food and getting to sleep in my bed were the biggest takeaways I was looking at.
The next two weeks went by in a frenzy as one event after another got postponed and when the Indian Open went that way as well, reality dawned on us. It became clear we would be in Delhi for some time and that the situation had to be faced head on.
Since quite a few events on the Asian Tour got postponed, I sent my entry for two tournaments on the domestic circuit in Ahmedabad and Pune, but within three hours of signing up, they too were put off. I was disappointed to have missed out on the Tokyo Olympics, having been close to the qualifying mark. After some dithering, I began treating the lockdown as off-season and started work on long-term issues.
The Olympics being postponed (to 2021) is a relief, but it will be a while before we can get on to the golf course and compete. Such times require innovative methods and the will to gain an edge over competitors. We sportsmen are never short of inspiration, and for me, Vijay Singh is an idol. When he grew up in Fiji, Vijay did not have access to fancy facilities. He went to the beach with his golf clubs and smacked the ball around. From such a beginning, “The Big Fijian” dislodged Tiger Woods as world No 1 for a while in 2004, won 34 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2006.
I am following the schedule written out by my trainer in Dubai, which includes running and the use of therabands and other exercise bands. With gyms shut, not all of it is possible, but I have been able to accomplish most of what has been prescribed. Eating right is also vital in these times.
Till the Delhi Golf Club was open, there was scope to play the course, but now it is about hitting balls from various distances at the farm. I want to be ready whenever the tour resumes and Martin Kaymer exemplifies what practice can achieve. After a go-karting accident in 2009, the German was out for six months and was allowed only to putt by doctors. He made the most of the time away and soon after his return became the world No 1.
Despite the postponement, the window for Olympic qualification will be very small given the uncertainty and I plan to be on the top of my game whenever the tour resumes.
These are tough times, but I hope we tide over this quickly as sport can’t be put on hold indefinitely. Apart from a handful of players who have global sponsors, almost all golfers will go in the red if they don’t get to compete in the next few months.
(As told to Robin Bose)
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